Quote of the Day: Berry Gordy is the founder of Motown Records, the hit-making enterprise that nurtured the careers of Diana Ross & The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, and many other music greats. The Motown sound reached out across a racially divided, politically and socially-charged country to transform popular music. notes from Motown the Musical, playing now through July 16, 2017, at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN, on tour in the USA through August 27, 2017.

My friend Jackie and I saw this show on media night at the Orpheum Theatre (Hennepin Theatre Trust) and we couldn’t get over how much the performers resembled the original artists. The boy who played young Michael Jackson blew us away. Diana Ross (Allison Semmes) had the moves, the voice, the body, and just WOW. Smokey Robinson’s sweet voice gave us shivers, and Marvin Gaye’s Grapevine was divine. Diana Ross got the whole audience to join hands and sing Reach out and Touch. You could feel the love! Seriously, music is what connects us, breaks down barriers, shows us that it’s okay to reach out and make the world a better place. Berry Gordy and his determination and optimism bridged the race gaps and launched careers of some of the greatest performers in American history.

CJ Wright as Michael Jackson (center) with the Jackson 5 MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2017

For audience members of a certain age, this is the music of their childhood, and it’s the music of our Nation’s history. The songs evoke memories and create new ones while sitting in this concert with a story. I learned more about the founder Berry Gordy and the musicians he worked with. I saw them as struggling artists and felt some of the barriers that were placed in front of them. Gordy never wavered, answering racist remarks with “this is American music.” Act I comes to an emotional ending with the song “War, What’s Going On” and the announcement of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Chester Gregory as Berry Gordy (center right) & Cast MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (C) Joan Marcus, 2017

The staging, choreography, casting, vocals, and musicians were absolutely amazing in Motown the Musical. It’s a look at American history through story and song. The performance is high energy, fast-paced, and groovy. I would recommend it to anyone, especially those who love the sound of Motown and grew up listening to these artists. You can see it at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN through Sunday July 16, 2017, or on tour in select cities through August 27, 2017. 

The Temptations MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2017

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What’s your favorite Motown song or group? 

I grew up singing “Stop, in the Name of Love,” with Diana Ross and the Supremes. And, I learned the motions!

Gabriella Whiting (Florence Ballard), Allison Semmes (Diana Ross) & Tavia Riveé (Mary Wilson) MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2017